Technically speaking, we’ve been celebrating the Christmas season since before Halloween. The shops are full of tinsel, the panic over buying your turkey has started, and I now refuse to walk around without my headphones in because I’m already sick of festive music. We all have our seasonal entertainment choices for this time of the year. I indulge in annual re-watches of The Shop Around the Corner and The Muppet Christmas Carol because I am a lover of the classics. For millions of people, however, the next two months are solely dedicated to the might of the Hallmark Christmas movie.
It’s no surprise that the channel owned by a greeting cards company would be so gung-ho about the most wonderful time of the year. The Hallmark Channel has long been a dark horse of cable TV, a bastion of commercially beloved shows and films of critically low repute. Their long-running series The Good Witch pulled in more viewers than Breaking Bad but never attracted the industry-wide attention of that prestigious drama. That’s not to say that Hallmark entertainment is some form of overlooked artistic genius, but their well-oiled machine of seasonal themed programming attracts its devoted audience for a reason. Think lots of red and green costumes, picturesque winter Americana clearly shot on a hot summer day in Vancouver, the presence of extremely white people Candace Cameron Bure, Danica McKellar, and Lacey Chabert, and a happy-ever-after punctuated by a less-than-saucy kiss. This formula is so trope-driven and so precise to its formula that you could set your watch to it.
This year, Hallmark will premiere FORTY-ONE new original holiday movies. Hell, they’ve been screening them since October 22nd so I am super late to the party. Still, let me catch you up on some of the weirdest, kookiest, and most Hallmark-esque holiday movies of the season!
ONE DECEMBER NIGHT
Hallmark Christmas movies are one of my not-at-all guilty pleasures this time of the year, and therefore I must let you know that Bruce Campbell(!) is starring in one that premieres this Saturday night. It's titled One December Night. I wouldn't think of missing it. pic.twitter.com/KxdpDdrMwn— John Squires (@FreddyInSpace) November 9, 2021
Two warring music managers must put aside their petty grievances to oversee the televised reunion performance of their rockstar fathers, who also have their own messy past. Seems pretty standard stuff, right? Sure, but then we introduce two of the finest words in the English language: Bruce Campbell. Yes, The Chin is here, wearing a cozy turtleneck and wielding an acoustic guitar. We can’t promise zombies but they do seem to turn up wherever Campbell is and I’m not sure Hallmark can prevent such things from happening.
THE SANTA STAKEOUT
I don't know who needs to know this but tonight's amazing discovery is that apparently, Joe Pantoliano is in a new Hallmark holiday movie THE SANTA STAKEOUT where 2 undercover cops are trying to catch a thief. Obviously, with Joey Pants, he's Suspect Number 1. You're welcome. pic.twitter.com/4gGX24AcaC— Jen Johans (@FilmIntuition) November 7, 2021
Tamera Mowry-Housley plays a police detective who is reluctantly partnered up with fellow officer Ryan to solve a string of heists taking place during high-profile holiday parties. This, of course, requires them to go undercover as newlyweds to stake out the case’s prime suspect. Joe Pantoliano is in this one so there’s a solid chance that somebody may actually die. I’ve seen his movies, I know what’s up. I must admit that I’m a bit sad that the fake couple here aren’t staking out Santa himself. What is that dude up to when he’s breaking and entering into millions of homes in one night?
Just watched and enjoyed Hallmark's Christmas Sail…and based on the amount of tissues I needed, it should have been on HMM—and I would have expected that sort of emotion gushing out while watching.. But, I did love it! #ChristmasSail #CountdownToChristmas pic.twitter.com/bTkUo5RIAu— Georgia Makitalo (@georgiamakitalo) November 10, 2021
Nothing says happy holidays like a sailing trip with Starbuck! Another big part of the Hallmark Christmas movie is the implicit understanding that all of these breeding couples are rich as f**k. Katee Sackhoff stars as a single woman to an adorable moppet who returns home to look after her estranged father, played by Terry O’Quinn from Lost. She reconnects with her decently attractive best friend and also they’re on a boat. I’m not sure Hallmark has the budget for high seas action so I’m hoping for green screen shenanigans and Locke and Starbuck riffing.
We're ready! Are you? Catch the premiere of Gingerbread Miracle starring @merrittpattrsn and #JonEcker tonight on @hallmarkchannel at 8pm/7c🎄🍿🎥 #CountdownToChristmas #HallmarkChannel #GingerbreadMiracle pic.twitter.com/vVsNyetUWS— Sunita Prasad (@OfficialSunita) November 5, 2021
It’s not Hallmark without some sort of Christianity-adjacent mysticism applied to only the most low stakes of incidents. This time, we have magical gingerbread cookies that grant wishes! Can they grant me the wish to get biscuits that taste better than gingerbread? Shortbread all the way. Many of the best magic Hallmark plots are only a step away from being horror movie scenarios. Just imagine this plot with a Philip Glass score and a sinister baker played by Tony Todd.
CHRISTMAS AT CASTLE HART
Christmas At Castle Hart gets its movie poster/key art w/ the tag line "alot can happen on the way to ever after" Starring Lacey Chabert & Stuart Townsend premiering Saturday November 27th! 🏰 🏰 🎄🎅 pic.twitter.com/Ggbf6s4Kxj— Hallmark Enthusiast🎄🎅⭐ (@PinkSunsetxo) November 4, 2021
So, you know how Netflix is desperate to get into the Hallmark-esque holiday movie racket with films like A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch? Well, this year, one of their prime offerings is A Castle for Christmas, wherein Brooke Shields wants to buy a castle in Scotland but most deal with the grump duke played by Cary Elwes with the kind of Scottish accent that would have gotten him kicked out of Brigadoon. I’m excited. Meanwhile, Hallmark has basically the same movie, but this one is Irish. You know, just in case my homeland isn’t your bag. This one stars Hallmark staple Lacey Chabert as the perky American who is mistaken for an elite event planner. The Earl of the castle is Stuart Townsend! Hey, at least he’s actually Irish.
Poster/key art for SISTER SWAP: CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY, airing December 12th on Hallmark Channel and starring real-life sisters Ashley and Kimberly Williams, who goes by her married name Williams-Paisley.— Ho! Ho! Holiday Viewing! (@SleepyKittyPaw) October 26, 2021
Odd they dropped this poster, before Dec. 5's SISTER SWAP: HOMETOWN HOLIDAY pic.twitter.com/h1XB64aQ6J
Ashley Williams and Kimberly Williams-Paisley are the Hallmark sisters, although the latter will always be Virginia in The 10th Kingdom to me. If you like sibling double acts then there are no fewer than two Sister Swap movies this season. Jennifer and Meg Swift live in separate cities with very different lives. Perhaps a, surprise, swap will shake up things in a predictably shenanigans-heavy manner. I’m telling you, it’s not too late to make that 10th Kingdom sequel that I and only I want.
EIGHT GIFTS OF HANUKKAH
It took until very recently for the Hallmark Channel to acknowledge that some people aren’t Christian, which lead to the first Jewish holiday movies on the network. We may have to wait a while for some Muslim or Hindu stories. This isn’t really Hallmark’s area of expertise, to be fair. Do you just swap out the red and green color palette for blue or something? In these movies, Jewish people seem to be strange curiosities who treat the Christian holidays like they’re being introduced to aliens. As the Washington Post noted in a piece from 2019, these films aren’t really Hanukkah movies. They’re ‘Christmas movies with Hanukkah as a plot device.’ Yikes. We’re not sure how this year’s token offering will improve on that, although at least they seem to have actually cast two Jewish actors in the leading roles this time.
Header Image Source: Hallmark Channel